Sharing Christ at Nursing Homes in 21

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Yesterday I shared a little about preparing a Christmas outreach into Senior Living communities in your own town. Today I’ll be presenting some practical suggestions that you can use, or re-configure to fit your own situation. Most importantly is that we try to find ways to carry the love of Christ into facilities that are just beginning to open again. Why shouldn’t Christians be the first ones in the door willing to bringing tidings of comfort and joy. this Christmas?

We need to think about how the same old goals of nursing home ministry can be done in brand new ways. When Sunday services in a nice comfortable chapel at a retirement village where I used to visit were cancelled, one of the residents went to the administration and received permission for us to meet outside at a little park area around a fountain. Someone ran a long extension cord out of a nearby building to power the microphone and while others brought beach chairs to supplement the few park benches, we had available. We printed out flyers to advertise our little gathering and prayed it wouldn’t rain. It was both amazing and wonderful how being outside allowed other residents of the village to see that they had somewhere they could go for fellowship, singing and prayer. Some people wore masks, everyone socially distanced and no one became infected by it. Most of all we discovered that the difficulties encouraged us to work together with everyone and that together we could bring the hope of Christ to our community. One woman did the organizing and scheduling; while two retired pastors took turns moderating our meetings, and I only needed lead the songs.

Eventually we were granted the use of a recreational building where we had air conditioning during our hot Florida summer but the lessons we learned at the fountain were precious and will remain with me forever. We are a family and every family has to work together to find unique solutions in different situations. At another facility, the recreation director eagerly invited us to come sing Christmas carols.

Our Florida solution was to do the caroling around the swimming-pool! Residents from the assisted living building overlooking the pool area could hear the music and as we went on our small group grew in numbers considerably. At the end of our time after we prayed, we turned around to leave and were surprised by one of the staff people with a food-cart serving everyone hot chocolate and ice cream! It reminded me of the scene at the burning bush when God called Moses to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go. As you can imagine Moses was less than thrilled about how that was going to play out and God asked him a simple question,” What is in your hand?” and Moses answered, “A staff.” (See Exodus 3:2). In that same way, as we stand in front of our own burning bush, wishing we could pass through those flames to answer our own call to serve and God is asking each of us; “What is in your hand?” What opportunities do you have? Who can you ask to help? What abilities and talents has God given you? The answer may be something as insignificant as the stick in Moses’ hand, but God is not as concerned about what we have, but in how able He is to use anything and anyone that is given to Him in order to share the love of Christ with others.

These are the Sunshine newsletters that we distribute free of charge in several facilities

Friends of Jesus

This morning I am introducing a new Thursday feature to the Praise2worship blog called the Sunshine Newsletter. As some of my followers know I have had the privilege to be involved in nursing home ministry for about thirty years. About three years ago I began printing out a devotional newsletter for the residents to give them something to read between weekly visits. When Covid-19 shut down all the communities I visited, I began to include a bit more in the newsletter and was able to get it to the residents by sending it to the activities directors of the various facilities. Fast forwarding a year – two wonderful friends, Pastor Janice Burnett and Rob Keller came on board and helped with the writing and editing of Sunshine Newsletter replete with new formatting and images. Sadly I have not yet found a way to directly upload our format to WordPress but you will be seeing the content of our publication along with the best photos I can find each Thursday. What you may find surprising in a Nursing Home Devotional newsletter is that, while now and then there is some news or a brief mention of nursing homes, its focus is rather to encourage the residents. They face many of the same issues we all do, so after receiving permission to use their material I present to you today a recent installment. Have a blessed day all!

I Call You Friends by Pastor Janice Burnett

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV

Did you ever have a job where you didn’t know much about the business? Perhaps it was your very first job as a gas station attendant or a waitress. If you were pumping gas, you might have known just enough about which gas to put into the car or the truck, then take the money and make sure it got into the cash register. It might have been the same if you were working in a restaurant – you waited on the customer, served them the food, took their money and handed it over to the cashier. Maybe over time you stayed working there long enough to know more about how the business was run. In fact, you might have ended up managing or even owning it! But, that didn’t happen overnight did it?

One of my first jobs was behind the counter at a snack bar at a W.T. Grants Department Store – remember them? I knew just enough to do my job, but I didn’t know my manager’s responsibilities, and I certainly didn’t know anything about running the entire store! Jesus knew something about this and talked about it and our relationship to Him in John Chapter 15 when he called us “Friends” – Wow! When you think about a relationship with Jesus, do YOU usually think of HIM as a friend? Many times in our lives, we have been rightly taught to respect and obey Him. I want to do that, don’t you? But Jesus is telling His disciples – and us – that He calls us friends. We are not just servants who get ordered around and from whom He keeps secrets. As a parent how many times did you reassure your child or grandchild of your love even though you told them what to do? Did you only say it once? No! You repeated it time after time just like Jesus! He tells us to remain in His love and so love each other, and then He calls us friends! He is so loving, patient and kind! Just as the song says, “Oh – What A Friend we Have in Jesus” Have you made friends with Jesus by opening your heart to Him? It is never too late to begin that friendship. He is waiting to hear from you today!

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com
Circle of His Friends 
by Peter Caligiuri

No need to knock on Jesus’ door
It’s open all the time
But He will always knock on ours
When He is passing by

He looks in through our windowpane
To see the empty spot
That at our kitchen table sits
With our dinner fresh and hot

Won’t you ask for Him to enter in
And forgive your sins and more?
 We join the circle of His friends
Once He’s come in our door!

When Joseph Scriven wrote the words of his now famous hymn, they were actually a poem he sent to comfort his mother who was very sick and missing him terribly back in Ireland. Several years previously, Scriven had lost the love of his life just week’s before they were to be married and in his time of grief he dedicated his life to God and there found great joy and peace. Hearing word of his mother’s ill health he sent these words of the hope he had found. Today they are still sung on job sites by brick layers and in corn fields by farmers. People lying in hospital rooms as well as standing in the largest cathedrals have been encouraged to know that no matter how important others think we are or how much money we have in the bank, there is nothing we could ever have that compare to the riches and power of a life lived as one of the friends of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!    
Joseph Scriven 1855

Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God – Teresa of Avila

Getting to Sing by Christmas

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord , all the earth! Psalm 96:1 ESV

It seems that the door is just beginning to reopen to nursing home ministry if only just a crack. I cannot yet go into a facility nor can the residents come out. But what we were able to do was meet outdoors with those in the Senior living units that surround the main building. Please pray with us that no matter the results of the election that in some safe way that we will be able to sing for our dear friends by Christmas. We can and do send cards and have already raised money to purchase about thirty large print Advent devotionals to give. What is on my heart is to have opportunity to sing Christmas carols in person even if we cannot hug or even shake hands. Thanks for your prayers encouragement and ideas. Today the video includes Have Thine own Way, some clips from our meeting last Saturday and O How I Love Jesus. God bless you and have a great weekend.